How to Create Carpet Bedding for the Garden



Carpet bedding has a great attraction for those who admire masses of harmonious and contrasting colors more than the individual beauty of a flower. Carpet bedding techniques can create striking effects secured by the use of plants having ornamental or richly colored foliage; you will often see this effect in large public parks, estates and resorts.




Carpet bedding can also be used by those keen on creating garden designs, such as clocks, images and designs marked out in plants on the landscape, as depicted in the image here. Whatever your reason for creating a carpet bed, be prepared to let your imagination as well as your hands do a lot of the work!

Steps

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    Bring out a pattern or design fully and clearly by using plants that are capable of providing a solid color effect. Mostly this effect will be achieved from the use of foliage rather than flowers - few flowering plants have blooms prolific enough to provide the desired consistent result, although they can often be used in combination with the ornamental foliage plants as a contrast and highlight.
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    Select good quality foliage plants for creating the carpet bedding. The plants chosen should be healthy, strong-growers with a profusion of consistent color. Here is a selection of good plant varieties for creating a carpet bedding:
    • Coleus - in various shades of red, maroon, and scarlet, light and dark yellow, green and white, and other varieties.
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    • Achyranthes - low-growing plants in mixtures of red, pink, yellow and green.
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    • Centaurea gymnocarpa, "Dusty Miller," - with finely-cut foliage of a cool gray.
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    • Alternatheras - similar to Achyranthes in habit, but with red as a predominating color. Both are excellent for working out the finer details of a design.
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    • Pyrethrum, "Golden Feather" - with feathery foliage of a tawny yellow.
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    • Geranium Madame Salleroi - with pale green and white foliage. This is an excellent plant for use in carpet-bedding because of its close, compact habit of growth, and its very symmetrical shape, which is retained throughout the entire season without shearing or pruning.
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    Choose the layout design. There are many possible layout designs. This step provides some examples that you might like to follow. Some of them may seem rather complicated, but when you get down to the business of actually laying them out, any possible complications should vanish in the doing. In laying out all but the star-shaped and circular beds, begin with a square as the basis to work from. Decide on the size of bed you propose to have, and then stake out a square as shown by the dotted lines in design No. 1, and work inside this square in filling in the details. If this is done, creating the carpet bedding will be much easier to achieve. In designing your layout, here are some ideas to inspire you:
    • Layout design 1 - easy to make, with many possible combinations and modifications. It is best to arrange the colors to suit your individual taste.
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    • Layout design 2 - a division showing different spaces; a plain center with a plain point as shown in (a), shows the bed in its simplest form. In g, c, and d, these points have three different arrangements and the dotted line in the central portion indicates a change that can be made that will add considerably to the effectiveness of the design.
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    • Layout design 3
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    • Layout design 4
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    • Layout design 5
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    • Layout design 6
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    • Layout design 7 - the simplest possible form of bed. This is designed for plants to be set in rows. In a bed of this kind, flowering plants can be used more effectively than in any of the others. Pink, white, and pale yellow Phlox would be very pretty in such a combination.
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    • Layout design 8 - another very simple design. This design would be quite effective if each of the five sections were of a different color of Coleus. Or, the whole star might be of a solid color, with a border of contrasting color. Red Coleus with Madame Salleroi Geranium as a border would look well. So would yellow Coleus edged with Centaurea.
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    Choose the color combination. Before deciding on any color combinations, make a rough diagram of whatever bed layout you select and color this to correspond with the material you have to work with. Seeing these colors side by side on paper will give you a better idea of the general effect that will result from any of your proposed combinations than you can get in any other way, and will allow you to test them, helping to avoid making some serious mistakes. If you have a computer design program that you can use easily, this may be another helpful alternative. Here are some interesting combinations to consider:
    • Ageratum, with its delicate lavender-blue flowers, is very attractive in combination with yellow Coleus
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    • A pink Geranium surrounded with gray Centaurea makes a harmonious combination
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    • Scarlet Salvia is very effective with yellow Coleus
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    • A Canna of rich, dark green makes a fine center plant for a bed in which red Coleus served as a background. One of the dark copper-colored varieties has a good effect if surrounded with either yellow Pyrethrum or gray Centaurea.
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    Plant the plants. In setting these plants in the bed, be governed by the habit of each plant. Achyranthes and Alternathera, being the smallest, should be put about four inches apart. Give the Coleus about six inches of leeway, also the Centaurea. Allow eight inches for Madame Salleroi Geranium and Pyrethrum. These will soon meet in the row and form a solid line or mass of foliage.
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    Care for the carpet bedding. Caring for the carpet bedding is a key element to its success.
    • Tend the bedding weekly - it is recommended to tend the bedding at least weekly to remove any straggling branches and leaves that are impacting the lines and colors of the design. Run your pruning shears along this line and ruthlessly cut away everything that is not where it belongs. If this is not done on a regular basis, your "pattern" will soon become blurred and indistinct. If any intermingling of colors "from across the line" is allowed, all sharpness of outline will be destroyed.
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    • Keep plants clipped - clip frequently to keep the plants dwarf and compact. Make it a point to keep larger-growing plants, such as Coleus, Pyrethrum and Centaurea, under six inches in height rather than over it. Alternatheras and Achyranthes will need very little shearing, as to top, because of their habit of low growth.
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    • Remove dead or dying leaves and branches - pick these up regularly to keep the design in good shape.
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Tips

  • Visit your local nursery to get an idea of what is available in the immediate market to get your carpet bedding started.
  • Visit the local botanical gardens or a renowned public park for more ideas. Here you might find plants that are appealing but might not be available in your local nursery. Find out their names and either ask the nursery to get them shipped in for you, or ask management at the gardens for a cutting to strike yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Foliage plants
  • Planning tools

Sources and Citations

  • Sourced from Eben E Rexford, Amateur Gardencraft, (1912) available in the public domain via Project Gutenberg. The eBook used for the source of this article is available for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.

Article Info

Categories: Theme and Feature Gardens